December 14, 2004

No one wanted any part of it...

Roger Simon, writing about his meeting with Omar and Mohammad, of Iraq the Model, writes:

...As it happens, the question of whether we should have "disbanded the Iraqi Army" came up at our party for Iraq the Model the other night. Because I have never been to Iraq, speak no Arabic, never have been in the Army, etc., unlike others, I have never had a strong opinion on this issue. I simply do not consider myself qualified. But I have to say I was surprised at the response to the question.

Omar, the younger brother, all of twenty-four but waaay wise beyond his years, simply laughed and said it would have been impossible. There was no way we could have kept the Iraqi Army together even if we had wanted to. The Iraqi Army, hugely underpaid conscripts who hated what they were doing, had already dissolved before we got to Baghdad. No one wanted any part of it. There was no Iraqi Army to preserve. We had to start all over again - which we have... eventually...

That fits with all that I've heard about the old Iraqi army. It's hard for us to imagine how colossally bad the combination of an Arab army plus Soviet training and doctrine can be. We simply have no institutions in America that are that bollixed-up. So the people who keep repeating that the army should not have been disbanded should perhaps be cut a little slack.

But only a little. The people who write that are, as far as I've seen, intellectually dishonest. They never address the serious objections to that plan, or discuss exactly how it might have been done. If they think the old army was so useful, how come they never devote so much as a single sentence to discussing that army? And they never address the deeper problem—that preserving an instrument of Ba'athist oppression does not fit with our plans to bring democracy and freedom to Iraq.

Summer patriots like Andrew Sullivan use the Iraqi Army business as a throw-away line for Bush bashing, but they clearly don't actually care about the subject. If we had kept the old army, they would be sneering that such short-cuts show that the Administration is no better than Saddam!

Posted by John Weidner at December 14, 2004 6:10 PM
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